Sunday, April 11, 2010

Life in L.A.

This past September, Leon and I moved into our new home in St. Charles. Beyond the blessing of the house, and the quiet location on a cul de sac that backs woods and the Katy Trail, and the :30 second "commute" to get Sydney to her caregiver's house each day, we've discovered the unexpected blessing of absolutely incredible neighbors.

We started to figure this out shortly after moving in, when Friday after work and Saturday afternoons found neighbors gathering in big groups on the corner up the block. And then there was the family harvest fest in October with bobbing for apples and pot luck and the street closed off for the event. Then, we had a winter progressive dinner - which was great, and now that spring has sprung we had another progressive dinner, followed by late night carousing around the fire pit at the neighbor's right next door. Oh, and a fireworks display. About 3 dozen people were part of the fun.

Yup. Living in L.A. (that's Lower Addyston Place) is pretty fantastic. It's something we all seem to appreciate - that old-fashioned notion of really knowing your neighbors. Sitting by the fire, the families with young kids were passing the video monitor around because we all could see our babies on various channels (and check on those babysitters, right?) And we had the joyful fun of laughing and talking and the BEST part was that none of us work together, and so we didn't "talk shop", which happens way to often among like-minded pals who also share a watercooler.

We love our new neighborhood, but I think what I am going to love best is not the new house, but the old-style of relating with the people who we might be living near for the next 40 years. I have a feeling that's something that's pretty hard to find, and pretty great to have.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A little taste of NOLA

"What we play is life." ~ Louis Armstrong
Many of you know that Leon and I love New Orleans. We know that people either "get that" or they quite simply don't.

I had the chance to spend three days there last week for the LEA Administrators' Conference, and of course made time late one evening to take in some jazz at Preservation Hall. I thought I'd share a clip to give you a sample of one of the many things we appreciate most about NOLA. So enjoy this little sound byte of the Paulin Bros. Brass Band. And please, tap your toe a little.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

That whole seasonal affective thing ...

For whatever reason, I've never been a big fan of February.

It actually goes back to my early teaching days in Milwaukee, when something about the shortest month of the year with its 4:30PM cover of darkness, classrooms filled with vitamin-D deficient students, and overall interminable gloom just settled in a took up a warm cozy residence in my psyche. It's just always a hard one for me.

Sure, there's plenty to appreciate about February, I suppose. Valentines Day.


President's Day.

My sister's birthday! (That's a good one, actually!) And my Dad's birthday! But those celebrations are within a week of the end of this wintry month, so they really don't count.

It's weird that February brings me such a bummer-vibe. You'd think it'd be March. Now there's a month that was gloomy in Milwaukee. But having grown up in Missouri, March - for me at least - really has always just "felt" like a harbringer of spring. I was Confirmed in March. Granted, it was overcast and extremely wet and cold, but hey - it was also Palm Sunday so it "felt" spring-y. Nope, March is all good.

Right now I am in the holding pattern - almost halfway through February and really ready for some sign of winter's demise.

So, here's my pondering today - how do all of my dear friends out there battle SAD (isn't that ironic, eh?) Seasonal Affective Disorder, I'm not saying I have it - but let's be honest the symptoms seem to be popping up all over! And this isn't a slight to folks who battle depression - we can talk about that in a future post. But the reality is - gloomy cold, hibernating communities breed a sense of "ugh." So how are you beating it? 

Extra workouts? Cooking your favorite recipes? A new devotional/prayer ritual? Extra emphasis on time with friends? Maybe our January new year resolutions are better saved for February as opposed to being introduced in the hectic mayhem of the first month of the year.

I'm curious. And eager to learn because this year seems more difficult than others. I think with the new house, big stresses at the office, an on-the-go toddler, new directions for Leon's career and other "big" ticket issues on the brain, I just feel more inclined to be melancholy this February. So I am looking for some reasonably logical strategies, perhaps a good kick in the gloomy-butt, and maybe a chance to meet for tea with some good friends to help us all pull through.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January Saturdays and UnCommon Sights

Eagles don't flock, you have to find them one at a time. ~ H. Ross Perot

After four days with Leon on the road; and after having (I suppose successfully) battled Syd's ear infection/chest cold/teething/lack of napping/restless sleeping, the Jameson girls had cabin fever. We needed a Saturday activity that would get us out of the house, but not expose us too much of the general public as we are just recouping from Syd's mess of germs (and I, frankly, didn't feel like doing more with my self than a pony tail and tennies). What to do?

Inspiration came early this morning (Syd was up at 5:30 ... instead of her normal 7), "Why - it's January! And we live along the Missouri River. Let's visit the bald eagles in Alton!" I figured, this might be a bust for a 2 year-old, or quite cool and so we got ourselves bundled up, grabbed a camera, and headed for Alton, IL and the Great River Road to see what we could see.

We started at the Alton Visitor's Center, where a quick online search had revealed we could get up close to one of the great birds as part of the Center's January Eagle Meet and Greet program. The tiny brick house in central Alton was absolutely packed with grandmas and papas, little ones and bored looking adolescent ones. And just hanging out in bold incongruity in the front office was a petite trainer with an absolutely huge bald eagle on her arm. I've certainly never seen anything like it, and obviously neither had Syd, who became immediately slacked jawed and just whispered "big bird." We angled through the crowd to get as close as we could, and watched. (And yes, the bird (that seems too undignified a word, actually) turned and looked right at Miss Syd.)

We picked out a small stuffy for Syd's "treasure box" and - tiny eagle in hand - headed out to the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary for a drive. We oohed and ahhed our way past dozens and dozens of migratory white swans, and turned a corner to see perhaps 2 dozens bald eagles fishing in the river to our left. It was amazing. Syd thought they looked like "big dogs" standing out in the water like they were - and they soared and were simply doing their majestic thing while we gaped at them from the cozy comfort of the car.

Following this excitement, we headed back into Alton to eat at a place called My Just Desserts (guess what the best part of lunch was? And the Tollhouse Brownie is worth the applause it receives on their Web site). Then it was time for a slower drive through Orchard Farm and home for naps.

Sydney hasn't stopped enjoying her bald eagle stuffy - and I couldn't be happier that she loved our adventure today. The idea of introducing her to "America's pet", which was the only way I could think to explain all of the wow-factor and such an early age will lead to a deeper appreciation for the power of independence, the beauty of freedom, the beauty of the view when you're soaring ... eh, too poetic? At any rate, today's lesson, toddlers and eagles are a super fit.

Onward and Upward!